Scientists have just made an amazing discovery about our noses, and more specifically our sense of smell, that is sure to surprise you.
A remarkable new claim by a scientist at Rutgers University indicates that there is one surprising truth about our noses, and that is that it’s a lot more sensitive than we realize. The paper claims that the idea we have a poor sense of smell is actually a 19th-century myth, and that in fact humans have an extremely good sense of smell.
It makes sense why we would lose our sense of smell, evolutionarily speaking. Charles Darwin thought that it indicated we had advanced beyond our ape ancestors, and an upright posture meant our noses, which used to be near the ground, weren’t as useful anymore.
But instead of regressing in smell, the paper suggests we may have simply repurposed that ability. The human olfactory bulb has been repositioned beneath the front lobe, which enables us to integrate smell into other mental processes, allowing us to think about the smells rather than simply react to it. In fact, our olfactory bulb remains about the size of all mammals relative to our bodies.
“For so long people failed to stop and question this claim, even people who study the sense of smell for a living,” says Rutgers University-New Brunswick neuroscientist John McGann, associate professor in the Department of Psychology, School of Arts and Sciences. “The fact is the sense of smell is just as good in humans as in other mammals, like rodents and dogs.”